Open Library Wiki Project

A group in conjunction with The Internet Archive have started work on a grand project: Every book, every language, cataloged and, when available, reproduced for the public. I played with it a bit and found the wiki very useful. Anything that is legally publishable about a book is being recorded. I read an excerpt from Toni Morrison’s Beloved and flipped through scanned pages of an out-of-print edition of Tom Sawyer (seen above). If the complete text is not available, a variety of links are given to buy and borrow the book. Oh, and they are looking for some help. Open Library via BoingBoing

WOW Moments in Technology

What was the first piece of technology that made your eyes light up in wonder? As I shared on my about page, my WOW moment happened in front of my friend’s 386dx. I asked my mom the same question and she replied, “Our first TV. It was black and white. We were the last to get one on our block, but I was amazed by it.” We have all been surprised by a piece of modern technology. Whether a color TV that brings the world into Technicolor focus or a 2400 baud modem that lets you connect with local bulletin board systems (BBS), these seemingly simple items remind us of the power of human ingenuity. I’m going to try to use the universal “wow moment” to introduce a discussion about our county’s technology integration guide. Here’s my attempt to connect the dots: 1. Everyone has been inspired by technology. 2. Our students have the same experiences. 3. This common experience should remind us we all understand the power of technology to transform our lives. 4. The rub comes when we look at the individual experiences. This is when value judgments start. Am I less of a man because I last rocked the video game world on a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and am confounded by the Playstation3 and Xbox360? 5. […]

Movie Titles to Teach Presentation Aesthetics

The movie title sequence holds the unique responsibility of setting a tone for the movie to come. In their worst moments, the title is an annoying distraction keeping you from the movie you are excited to see. But in their best moments, a title sequence helps to build anticipation and excitement. Powerpoint or Keynote serve the same function in a presentation. When you sit down for a presentation and see the first slide, you are either captivated or irritated. This is multiplied when you know you have 30+ student presentations to sit through. In a world where how content is presented is just as important as the content itself, we need to help our students understand the importance of aesthetics. Enter Submarine Channel’s growing collection of movie titles. The site serves up a diverse collection of opening titles that could easily be used to start a discussion on powerful presentations. Students could view a series of sequences, analyze them, and regroup for a conversation. Link


ITRT Summer Camp – VSTE

Hey there VSTE ITRTs! Here are links to the resources used in today’s Google Earth/Maps, GPS session. I tried to cull things down a little bit to keep it from being overwhelming. If you want to check out all the links for Google Earth feel free to browse my account. There’s lot more stuff there. Google Earth First, you can get Google Earth for free here so go get it if you haven’t yet. Basic Google Earth Tutorials Google’s Own Basics Juicy Geography’s PDFs Adding Time– make your KML files change using the time line feature KML Files The Google Earth Blog– all Google Earth, all the time Google Lit Trips– Books with a geographic twist The BIG Keyhole Site– lots of everything including help Google’s Outreach Showcase– where Google shows off good examples Keep in mind you can search in Google Earth for KML files. Lesson Plans/Example Files (stuff I showed you) English Examples History Examples Math Examples Science Examples (kind of big 3MB) Neat Stuff Possibilities The Next Level Make Better Balloons Make Your File From a Spreadsheet– you can make KML files from a spreadsheet and they’re pretty! Google Maps A lot of features similar to Google Earth. It will allow you to embed video in the information bubbles which is nice and I like the […]

Google Earth – Proof of Concept Stuff

A while back I posted about using GoogleLookup to get data quickly and easily to make and put into Google Earth via Google Spreadsheets. The example file is at It’s a network link. In Google Earth- click Add– Network Link and paste the URL into the Link box. Here’s some information on how to do this if you’re interested. Put Info into Google Earth from a Google Spreadsheet Things ended up being far easier than I anticipated. The last time I did a networked KML link from a spreadsheet (sounds way fancier than it is) I had to make it myself and go through a different service. Now Google has a nice template all set up to make things work well and it makes things pretty as well. Adding GoogleLookup to the Template So the next thing I did was play around a little with the lookup function. I didn’t do too much. I was just playing around to make sure it would work. This wouldn’t save you much time as it’s only five cities but it you wanted to plot all this information for 50 cities things would start to get a lot more interesting. I just added a few columns at the end of the spreadsheet and then set up the following formulas. I put the lookup […]


Standardized Tagging – And The Best Idea I’ve Had in a While (right?)

OK. We had an interesting conversation at NECC about creating a standardized system of tagging so we can all actually find the things other people have made or found already. BUT the issue is in coming up with an effective way of tagging that everyone can use across all the school districts, states etc. Teaching Generation Z added an extra level of complexity by reminding me that there’s more to the world than the U.S. Dang. Forgot about that. 🙂 SO . . initially I figured you’d have to make a choice. You’d either have to go pretty broad and lose a lot of individual usefulness (state standards for one which I feel is really the key to getting a larger sphere of involvement and usage) or you’d end up with way too many tags. So rather than being a negative jerk I started thinking about how it’d be possible to keep the regional detail needed and still create something that was useful internationally. A POSSIBLE ANSWER— What if we set up tagging standards based on smaller groups (state standards in the US and whatever is a comparable level internationally). Then we create correlations between the standards. (That would be the real work). After that when you tag it with the VA standards it will automatically pull in the relevant […]

Simile – Exhibit – Tutorial v.4

It took a while but I put together a fairly lengthy tutorial on how to make an Exhibit site that gets its info from a Google spreadsheet feed. It’s complete with tutorial files and a number of screencasts. I’m not sure it’s out of beta yet but I’m inviting anyone who’s interested to check out the tutorial and let me know if I’ve done anything stupid or made absolutely no sense in any portion (which is likely when trying to describe how the different view options work). I tried to include a rationale for using the project with Millennials as well as step-by-step directions to get a basic working copy up and running. The customization piece was a lot harder to do w/o specific requests to cover. If you want to know how to do anything I didn’t cover feel free to contact me and I’ll throw up some more video. The link is here. I’d appreciate any feedback- good or bad. Thanks, Tom

TeacherTube Now Fixed

TeacherTube has been fixed for a while now and seems to be running better (in my mind anyway). It’s a great site and well worth checking out. The nice thing too, is that I imagine they’ll have locked things down pretty securely after that. It looks like TeacherTube has been hacked. Don’t try to log in or you’ll get stuck in a loop. An unnerving experience and hopefully it isn’t too bad. It does serve as a reminder to stay on guard.


NECC Takeaways– A free resource made available by the Nicholas Foundation. There are a number of things going on there but the one I was really interested in is designed to enable large scale resource sharing, communication and cooperation among teachers. We were starting to cobble together a way to share, tag, rate, and review lesson plans and resources between our Instructional Technology Trainers. Shareology is offering a hosted package designed to help teachers do exactly this. It also supports variable levels of security, easy to set up user groups, blogging and discussion boards. There’s an example site for math teachers in a district similar in size to HCPS (50,000 or so). It’s a little locked down in terms of privacy but that’s one option some people will like. The fact that it’s free and hosted would make it ideal for a lot of places with over stretched IT departments and tight budgets.

Simile Exhibit Project – VA History SOLs

So I finally managed to get Exhibit working. Which is pretty impressive considering I’ve been working on it during NECC and I’ve failed a few times before. The site is up here. The death locations aren’t correct right now but I welcome any feedback you’d care to give. I think it has some really interesting potential in enabling students to interact with and see relationships between different types of data (geography/time/facts/eras). Plus it looks pretty, is interactive and you can click to sort/categorize everything on the fly. I used the same layouts used in their Presidents example. I took what they’d done and changed categories, some css etc. to create information that was more relevant to what we have to study. It was something of a hassle to get this done but I think it was worth it and I’m working on creating a basic template to allow teachers to put the data into a Google spreadsheet and drive the site through that. Here’s a short video showing what it can do. Click here if you can’t see anything below.